ZMapp, the experimental Ebola drug which has already been used on two people as a last ditch attempt to save them, has a 100% hit rate in reversing the deadly infection in monkeys
The release of the research is behind actual events but means the drug can now go to human trials and further down the path to gaining approval for official treatment of people.
ZMapp has already been used on humans and works.
Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, infected with Ebola and unlikely to survive, were flown separately from Liberia in West Africa to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in the US.
Both were given ZMapp and both later walked from hospital, healthy, free of the virus and apparently cured.
Scientists, writing in the journal Nature, say they gave the drug to 18 rhesus macaques and the Ebola infection disappeared even when starting treatment up to five days after infection.
The researchers show that three doses of ZMapp, administered at three-day intervals starting on day three, four or five after rhesus macaques were infected with Ebola virus, resulted in the survival of all 18 animals.
The treatment reversed severe Ebola virus disease symptoms such as bleeding, rashes and elevated liver enzymes.
Latest reports say the World Health Organisation fears the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people.
So far, the total number of confirmed cases in the current outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone is 3,069, with 1,552 deaths.
In Australia, experts say ZMapp has been the only treatment to be effective.
Glenn Marsh, a molecular virologist in new and emerging zoonotic diseases at the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, says ZMapp is a mix of antibodies, one of the body’s natural defense mechanisms, all targeted towards the Ebola virus glycoprotein.
“No other experimental Ebola virus therapy has been able to prevent fatal disease when administered this late following exposure to the virus,” he says.
These results demonstrate that ZMapp is a promising candidate therapy in preventing death of people infected with Ebola virus.
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